On August 2, 1928, near Bunker Hill, in southern Berkeley County, at an old frame house that once belonged to the Lamon family, an auction was held. Inside the house was an old and unusual desk.
The desk was tall, homely and full of unexpected compartments, generous in size, widespread and sturdy. More than sixty years previous, that desk belonged to a tall, thin man with serious, honest eyes, who worked on the details of his law practice at that desk.
It is said the desk was given to his law partner, one Ward Hill Lamon, who hailed from Bunker Hill. The other law partner was Abraham Lincoln, who, not long after, would become one of, if not THE greatest leader the United States has ever had.
The auction items included beautiful old sideboards, a four-poster bed, and stiff and uncomfortable chairs, covered with horsehair, of course. There were old clothes, old bottles of whiskey and rumors of a suit and shirt once worn by the President himself, that never materialized.
Lamon was born in the house where the auction took place (it is long gone now) in 1828. He died in 1893. There were alleged to have been two bottles of liquor that had been seized by U.S. authorities during the Civil War, more than sixty years previous.
Among the papers were three documents signed by Lincoln. One was a pass, dated April 11, 1865, for Lamon to go Richmond, where he was when Lincoln was assassinated. After the assassination, Lamon returned to Berkeley County, where he became a member of the law firm of Blackburn Hughes in Martinsburg.
The desk was the drawing card of the auction. A crowd of nearly five hundred people were in attendance that morning. They came from Philadelphia, Washington, Baltimore, New York and as far south as Harrisonburg, Virginia. No one was willing to pay more than $29.50 for the desk, as there were no papers and no documentation of its history – and so, what may have been Abraham Lincoln’s desk during his early career and rise to prominence disappeared into obscurity.